Do you want your group members to have a sense of family and belonging that goes beyond your weekly meeting? If this is your desire, you must first be willing to challenge your mindset. This means you need to stop thinking about your small group as a time and a place and a meeting.
Sometimes we get stuck thinking that small group is what we do on Tuesday night from seven to nine o’clock at our house. Meetings are important, but you have to break the mindset that small group is only a meeting. Small group goes beyond this. It’s about doing life together, being engaged in each other’s world, and touching base with each other throughout the week.
One way for your group to break out of its old rut is by doing something completely different as a group. For instance, if you meet every Tuesday night, maybe once a month or once every six weeks, intentionally don’t meet up on Tuesday night. Instead of doing your study, everyone does a mission project or eats a meal together. Or maybe just the women or just the guys get together for an early morning breakfast once a month.
The point of this is to change your group’s focus from “doing” to “being in relationship.” Its sole purpose then becomes not about going through a study as much as it is just getting into each other’s lives — talking about your marriages, your relationship with your kids, or about how things are going at the office.
Another great way to develop closeness within your group is to celebrate each other’s birthdays and anniversaries. Do something special on those occasions. This could include getting together for an outing and even involving the kids, like a picnic or a camping trip.
Perhaps one of the best ways to develop community outside of your small group meeting is to do a ministry project. This could be volunteering at a homeless shelter, delivering food to shut-ins or visiting the elderly. If you’re worried about not having enough time to put together an event, think about a person in your group who has a passion and a gifting for this and ask them to line up the event. Remember, this isn’t about “doing an event” but it’s about serving and helping others, while building deeper relationships in the process.
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